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Toyota's Kirobo is set for space

Astro Boy has been brought to life by Toyota and a group of Japanese companies and research institutions. The robot will be venturing into space later this year on an expedition to the International Space Station.
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), Dentsu, the Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology - the University of Tokyo (RCAST) and Robo Garage will send their jointly developed robot astronaut called Kirobo to space on 4 August 2013. The expedition will depart from the Tanegashima Space Centre in the Kagoshima Prefecture.

Humanoid verbal-communication robots

Kirobo is one of two humanoid verbal-communication robots developed under the Kibo Robot Project, a joint research project carried out by RCAST, Robo Garage and TMC. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has also provided extensive assistance. Kirobo weighs 1 kg, is 34cm high and can recognise emotion, nod and hold a conversation. Kirobo's fellow robot Mirata will stay behind and monitor Kirobo. Apart from sharing Kirobo's verbal skills, Mirata can accumulate knowledge.

RCAST and Robo Garage worked on the development of the robot hardware and motion generation, TMC was responsible for the voice-recognition function, and Dentsu handled the creation of the conversation content as well as the management of the entire project.

Kirobo and Mirata follow in the footsteps of several Toyota robots created to study personal transport and human dexterity. Previous Toyota robots have, amongst other things, played the trumpet and violin.

After launch aboard the Kounotori 4, Kirobo will disembark at the ISS and wait for the arrival of Commander Koichi Wakata in November or December. In the Kibo Japanese experiment module, the commander and Kirobo will then take part in the first conversation experiment held between a person and a robot in space.

Project Timeline (planned):

  • 4 August 2013: Robot astronaut Kirobo leaves for the ISS
  • August-September 2013: Kirobo speaks for the first time in space
  • November-December 2013: Commander Wakata arrives at the ISS
  • December 2013: Commander Wakata and Kirobo have their first conversation
  • May-June 2014: Commander Wakata leaves the ISS
  • December 2014: Kirobo returns to Earth

For further information on the Kibo Robot, go to

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